There is a vintage tint in Ira Wiggins’ tracks on his new recording When Freedom Swings from his independent label. The ragtime calibrations of Mavis Poole’s vocals on the title track, the buoyant cantor of the rhythm section in “As The Eagle Soars,” and the flaccid motion of Wiggins’ flute musing leisurely along “Me and Momma Gone Fishin’,” have trademark chordal forms reminiscent of the jazz luster of the 1950’s. Swathe in bubbly Chablis style atmospherics and pensive moods, Wiggins’ two disc recording brandishes a solid grasp of vintage café society jazz fringed in modern trimmings.
Flawless and harmonious, Wiggins’ palette of vibrant tones is acoustically pleasing emblematic of big bands led by the likes of Guy Lombardo and Count Basie Wiggins’ band produces seamless lines with natural flowing dynamics driving the tracks and building on the phrases. The title track is a fun number that entices the listener to join the party while the reclining tilt of the flute coursing along “People Make the World Go Round” creates a relaxing ambience. The meditative tone of the saxophone in “Shepherd’s Song” permeate a romantic timbre that trails into the jumping blues grooves of “Inner Urge” featuring Poole’s animated vocals.
The comfy stride of the flute paves curly divots along “Killer Joe” in a frolicking tempo then shifts into the soft ringlets of “In a Sentimental Mood” penned by Duke Ellington. The peppy beats sprinkled along Charlie Parker’s number “Bloomdido” supports the fancy free whipping of Wiggins’ flute, which trestle a series of gentle ballroom sweeps opening Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” then torches a conflagration of spiraling flutes and jaunty beats.
The band’s remake of “Christmas Time is Here” from the Charlie Brown cartoon by the same name is a faithful rendition of the original with a handful of spontaneous loop de loops. The boogie woogie grooves shaping Gene Ammons’ “Red Top” produce a festive mood that sounds like it came straight out of Marilyn Monroe’s film Some Like It Hot.
The collective environment of Wiggins’ band allows for creativity and improvisation within the boundaries of the melodies framework. In their pantry are baubles of loop de loops and feathering woodwinds improvised along the main themes producing atmospheres that enhance standard jazz idioms. When Freedom Swings is a philosophy of life for Higgins who shows that giving a collective of musicians the freedom to tap into their intuitive side makes for an A-class recording.
Ira Wiggins – tenor saxophone and flutes, Baron Tymas – guitar, Jon Metager – vibraphone and marimba, Cyrus Chestnut – piano, Ed Paolantonio – piano, Alvester Garnett – drums, Thomas Taylor – drums, Herman Burney – bass, Mavis Poole – vocals.
CD One – As The Eagle Soars, Me and Momma Gone Fishin’, When Freedom Swings, People Make the World Go Round, Shepherd’s Song, Inner Urge
CD Two – Killer Joe, In a Sentimental Mood, Bloomdido, Cherokee, Christmas Time is Here, Red Top